concrete pond level

Comparing & Choosing Pond Construction Methods.

Fish and water feature pond construction methods are vast and varied and range from using flexible, waterproof liners, to laying bricks, blocks with mortar or formed and shaped concrete and then plastering the structure.

Before you decide what sort of pond you are going to build (or have built), it’s a good idea to compare all the different methods in terms of:

  1. Cost,
  2. Availability of materials,
  3. Ease of construction,
  4. Final effect, and
  5. Any other pros and cons you can think of.

To do this, your first step will be to locate suitable fish pond supplies. You can then either work with what is available or look further afield to find exactly what you want – and need – for your chosen pond type.

In broad terms, the most common construction methods people use to build garden fish ponds involve:

  • Installing flexible liners, EPDM (an ethylene propylene polymer) being the most common in the USA,
  • Installing rigid liners or preformed ponds usually made from either fiberglass or some type of thermoplastic material,
  • Constructing ponds from bricks, blocks or from either real or simulated stone units, and
  • Building them from concrete that is cast on site.

Where flexible liners and preformed ponds are used, these are the only materials you need to create an impervious, watertight shell. But when ponds are built using the other specified materials, it is necessary to plaster the inside of the shell and/or seal them with some other suitable material. Rubberized bitumen is a common choice for plastered pools, although some people prefer the more expensive option of using a glass fiber coating.

From this you should immediately be able to see that the least expensive options are to use liners of some sort. While flexible liners are the least expensive (some being more pricey than others), preformed ponds are more likely to last longer than those constructed using a flexible liner. But preformed ponds are generally quite small and you are limited by the shapes supplied.

Having established the cost and availability of the materials you plan to use, you need to be sure that you can work with them, or find someone to do the job for you. None of the construction methods mentioned here is particularly difficult, although concrete-work and laying bricks, blocks and stone units all require some basic building skills – and a bit of experience. Concrete-work can also be quite heavy work.

Final effect is very important, and you need to know what you are aiming for. The most basic choice is between a formal pond and an informal pond, and you should be guided by the existing layout of your garden or backyard, and any obvious style of your house and other buildings.

Both flexible liners and concrete are good options for informal ponds because they can be formed to create any shape at all. While bricks, blocks and stone may also be used for informal structures, these materials are particularly appropriate when it comes to building more formal structures. Where flexible liners are used for formal structures, they are usually part of another building system. For example a liner may be used to seal a formal rectangular pond made from timber, or even the inside of a brick-built pond.

So decide what you want and what is feasible. Compare costs and then make up your mind what to build.

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Born in the United Kingdom, he has lived in South Africa for most of his life, and has a wealth of experience that spans a wide range of different media types and styles. He also launched his own advertising-powered publication, Cape Home Care, which had a circulation of 100,000 copies and was distributed free. His first book commission was Penguin Random House Publisher’s The Complete Book of Home Planning in South Africa, published in 1986, which was followed by Owner Building in South Africa the following year. His passion for DIY and renovation established him in the field of home maintenance and improvements, and he went on to illustrate dozens of home orientated books written by his wife and business partner, author Penny Swift (as well as one about horses). These also include Water Features for patios & Gardens, Step by Step Ponds Pools & Rockeries. Together they also owner-built three houses, and renovated several more, and both confer that their most successful book to date is the recently updated Owner Building in South Africa.


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